Boys Soccer Season Previews

The soccer season is here! For the boys, that means another clean slate for each team. Here’s a team-by-team look (alphabetical) on what the outlook is for each as we open 2022!

BANKS COUNTY

2021 Record: 1-13; Region 5th
Head Coach: Carlos Cook
Key Departures: Daniel Hart
Key Players Returning: N/A
Strengths: Being in Region 8-AA, a single region win could spell a playoff run
Expectations: Expectations are to compete within Region 8-AA

COMMERCE

2021 Record: 5-9; Region 4th; 1A State Sweet 16
Head Coach: Alicia Vargas
Key Departures: Erik Diaz, Yahir Navarro. “They were key defensive players that we have lost,” says Vargas. “Their presence will be missed on the field.”
Key Players Returning: Christopher Valle, Bryan Maldonado, Jhonny Valle, Tucker Bennett. “Looking to defensive freshman player, Christopher Valle who excelled at the middle school level and plays club ball,” says Vargas. “Freshman Maldonado is also looking to strengthen the team. Forward Jhonny Valle is  one of our key players returning, he is a junior. Senior Bennett to return as our goalie.”
Strengths: Young players who gained experience last season.
Expectations: “Looking to take as many region wins as possible and have a great, rewarding experience this soccer season,” states Vargas.

DAWSON COUNTY

2021 Record: 1-14-2; Region 6th
Head Coach: Patrick Muenchen
Key Departures: Caleb Bonesteel. “We lost our defensive and offensive player of the year but our overall talent looks stronger than ever,” says Muenchen.
Key Players Returning: “11 Club-Level players and 10 returning upper classmen, including 7 seniors,” says Muenchen.
Strengths: “We have great team synergy and great leadership from some guys that have played with me since I coached them in middle school,” states Muenchen. 
Expectations: “I have a very optimistic outlook for this season,” adds Muenchen. “We have the best schedule in 10 years, playing teams within our classification. The guys have been working hard since December. I look forward to a winning season and these guys going far.”

HABERSHAM CENTRAL

2021 Record: 12-8; Region 3rd; 6A State Sweet 16
Head Coach: Ric Wallace
Key Departures: N/A
Key Players Returning: TBD
Strengths: Talent and coaching. Like Jefferson, below, great coaching (Wallace) means even a new, inexperienced group will be able to fill the voids left by previous year’s seniors. The culture and winning tradition means a LOT to this program.
Expectations: Same as it ever was. In the mix for a region crown, and a team that should be in the playoffs and get past the first round. From there, anything goes.

JEFFERSON

2021 Record: 11-6-2; Region Runner-Up; 4A State Final 4; #4 State Ranking
Head Coach: Casey Colquitt
Key Departures: Sean Childs, Adam Hayes, Kupa Katompa
Key Players Returning: N/A
Strengths: Talent and experience. Even with losing such great players year in and out, Jefferson reloads like none other.
Expectations: To compete for a region title and be in the conversation to make a deep playoff run.

LUMPKIN COUNTY

2021 Record: 2-11; Region 5th
Head Coach: Bill Madigan
Key Departures: Jonah Wade, Gage Benton, Ben Orton, Dylan Bodney, Ncholas Anderson, Nathaniel Brooks, Erik Esqueda
Key Players Returning: Brauner Boegner, Payte Rucker, Nicholas Esqueda, Stephen Sherrill, Will Staples, Cameron Rairigh, Will Ramirez, Ricky Segura, Antony Ramirez, Jake Lloyd, Wes Childers, Sam Edwards, Will Routhier
Strengths: “Keeper,” states Madigan. “Brauner Boegner got a lot of experience in the goal as a freshman. He has a tremendous skill set and a great upside. We have some young talent up front and have the potential to grow into something special down the road.”
Expectations: “We are bringing back three starters and could start up to seven freshmen,” says Madigan. “Our focus is to change the culture and to play for each other. I believe that as the season progresses we will continue to improve and compete. Our season will be defined by how long it takes our young team to adjust from the middle school game to the varsity game. We have a great group of young men who want to win and are willing to put in the time and effort to make that happen. I am very excited to see how this team comes together.”

RABUN COUNTY

2021 Record: 3-10; Region 4th; 2A State Rnd 1
Head Coach: Alex Stafford
Key Departures: “We did have a few seniors graduate last year that will be tough roles to fill but we’ve got some incoming guys that are looking to step into those roles,” says Stafford.
Key Players Returning: Cesar Armenta, Diego Garcia, Juanes Martinez, Carson Becerra. “We do have a core group of seniors that are proving to be good leaders both on and off the field,” adds Stafford. “We have Armenta returning in goal, along with Garcia and Martinez returning to anchor the midfield, as well as Becerra to lead the defense. We’ve also got quite a few others coming up as well that are making big impacts for us.”
Strengths: “We are quickly building trust among players and getting good chemistry in practice,” states Stafford. “I do feel that a big strength for us this year will be our chemistry and grit. These guys are working hard and love the game, I’m hopeful we will be able to translate that to games as well.”
Expectations: “We have some tough competition but I’m looking forward to seeing what we will be able to do on the field,” says Stafford.

STEPHENS COUNTY

2021 Record: 1-11-1; Region 6th
Head Coach: Rob Worsley
Key Departures: N/A
Key Players Returning: Colton Bartmas
Strengths: New coaching means a new direction for Stephens County boys soccer. This has the chance to bring about new culture and new-found success.
Expectations: To be ready to take on the task and assignment of taking the next step. It’s been several years since this program has been in the mix for a playoff spot, so this is a great opportunity.

TALLULAH FALLS

2021 Record: 8-5; Region 3rd; 1A State Rnd 1
Head Coach: Jeremy Stille
Key Departures: Max Farris, Sammy Davis, Cainan Yaskiewicz, David Rodriguez Moreno, Joe Griswold, Junho So. “From last year, we lost 6 starters in Farris, Davis, Moreno, Griswold, So, and Yaskiewicz,” says Stille. “That was a strong spine in our team, but we have a big crop of returning sophomores and a few seniors and juniors that will help fill those holes. Obviously, losing 5 all-region players, including our starting attack, two starting defenders and the starting goalkeeper is a challenge, but the team and myself have faith in what we are building and believe we will see great results this season.”
Key Players Returning: Austin Ball, Brit Shaw, Jake Wehrstein, Josiah Turney, Eli Damron, Trevor Brameltt, Canon Brooks, Reilly Chatman, Kelton Reynolds. “Of our returners, Ball, Shaw, Wehrstein, Turney, Damron, Bramlett, and Brooks all had significant minutes last season and will be a great core to build around,” says Stille. “Each of these players brings tremendous skill, determination, and leadership to the team that can help us reach our goals for the season. As well, we have good competition in goal between returning sophomore Chatman and Kelton Reynolds. In addition, we have a great group of freshmen that are chomping at the bit to get action in games and prove their ability.”
Strengths: New-found success and trajectory.
Expectations: “Our upcoming season is looking like a strong building platform going forward,” adds Stille. “We had great success in our first GHSA year in 2021 and are looking to build on it and pursue higher goals this season. Overall, we are excited to see our performances on the field and the team grow together off the field. It will be an exciting return to GHSA this year and our team is hopeful that we can beat last season’s highs and continue to build GREAT traditions throughout the season.”

TOWNS COUNTY

2021 Record: 11-3; Region Champions; 1A State Final 4; #2 State Ranking
Head Coach: Rollie Thomas
Key Departures: Peyton Barrett, Jensen Brown. “We lost 9 players from last season,” says Thomas. “We were very senior-heavy, which was great for last season, but leaves a void this season. I’m asking inexperienced players to step into roles that they are unfamiliar with. Chemistry at position and playing with each other as a team will need a little recovery time to start off the season. We lost Towns County’s all-time leading goal scorer in Barrett. We also lost region player-of-the-year, Brown, in the midfield. As solid as his stat sheet was, we’ll miss his dominance of possession most–won aerial balls and 50/50 challenges. We will definitely lack experience that we had at nearly every position last season. Most teams at the single A level are lucky to have a solid middle all the way back to front. We’ll be lucky to have that this season.”
Key Players Returning: Lane Lallement, Grant Ingram. “Lallement is our stand-out senior, often used in years past as our ‘utility tool’-capable of playing anywhere on the field and being dominant in that position,” says Thomas. “He will make for a threat in the attack this season. I expect him to be a leading attacker in the region this season. Ingram is an athletic contribution to the team with a good IQ for soccer. He was a testament to our depth last season, as he was probably the most under-used talent in the region. This year, I expect him to contribute heavily in our offense. We have a decent size sophomore class, who were fortunate to come into the program under last season’s successful seniors. They’ll have a year’s worth of practice experience against that talent, as well as in-game situational experience from our state tournament run. I look forward to continuing to work with this group. We will have a number of freshmen to fill the mix that bring speed, athleticism, and a competitive fire in a great way.”
Strengths: “Our strengths will be in our attack, our pace, our aggression/physicality, and our versatility–key players being able to effectively change position or tempo mid-game,” adds Thomas.
Expectations: “I expect to compete this season and come away with great growth and improvement for the younger guys,” says Thomas. “My hope is that we reach another state tournament, finishing at the top with our region’s best, and reaching a competitive level that mirror’s last season’s.”

UNION COUNTY

2021 Record: 10-3; Region Champions; 2A State Sweet 16; #7 State Ranking
Head Coach: Chris Robbins
Key Departures: Aaron Helton
Key Players Returning: Kyler Robbins
Strengths: Winning brand, forwards
Expectations: Union is favored to win the region title from the onset. The expectation should be to claim the title again, and go further than last year’s Sweet 16.

WHITE COUNTY

2021 Record: 12-5; Region Champions; 3A State Sweet 16; #4 State Ranking
Head Coach: James Thomas
Key Departures: Hayden Gensler, Andrew Pierce, Dominic Stevens. “We lost our striker pairing up top: Pierce and Gensler who scored 50 goals between them last year,” says Thomas. “Defensively:,we lost our entire back line; Stevens saved us a lot in particular.”
Key Players Returning: Tristan Morris, Thad Gensler, Preskitt Castleberry, Grayson Cathey, Cohen Cantrell. “Morris has been steady for us in goal for a few years now,” adds Thomas. “Gensler will be important for us going forward. Castleberry and Cathey are crucial in the midfield, and Cantrell takes over the leadership role on the back line.”
Strengths: “In Replacing so much it’s difficult to tell at this point in the season what our strengths will be,” admits Thomas.
Expectations: “Also, at this point setting expectations could minimize what the potential for this team could be, since while we are replacing a lot we do still have potential this season,” states Thomas.

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